Dr. Ned Ira Chalat
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Dr. Ned Ira Chalat

Grosse Pointe - Dr. Ned Chalat of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, died Feb. 5, 2021 at the venerable age of 95. As a life-long resident of the Detroit area, a practicing physician and active leader in many civic organizations, Dr. Chalat had a profound impact on the community and his family.

His legacy includes more than 50 years as a practicing Ear, Nose and Throat Physician in downtown Detroit, where much of his time was devoted to inner city residents. He was also a revered Clinical Professor of Otolaryngology at Wayne State University School of Medicine and was credited for his pioneering research on transplanting eardrums.

Dr. Chalat believed that a physician's role extended beyond treating individual patients. He wrote "It has long been my feeling that we as physicians have never sufficiently exercised our potential in facing society's real difficulties."

In that regard, Dr. Chalat's commitment was unwavering. During the Detroit riots in 1968, he refused to abandon his patients and drove through police barriers to make rounds at Harper Hospital. During the AIDs crisis, he trained as a Red Cross instructor and berated doctors who refused to treat those patients. And, as a member of the editorial board for the Detroit Medical News, he wrote a series of essays promoting awareness about domestic violence, poverty and civil rights. He took every opportunity, in writing and in lectures, to prod members of his profession to help address those issues.

Dr. Chalat inherited his empathy for the underserved from his father who exemplified the grit and idealism of the immigrants who arrived in America at the turn of the century. Jacob Chalat, a young Jewish refugee, arrived in Detroit in 1910 after escaping from a Russian prison camp. Barely out of his teens, Jacob graduated from Central High School and then enrolled at the University of Michigan Medical School. He served as a physician in the United States Army, 1917-1918. Upon his return, Jacob turned down more lucrative job offers to work for the Detroit City Physicians Office making house calls and tending to the poor.

Eventually, as Jacob's own health deteriorated, his young son, Ned, accompanied him on house calls. As recently as this year, Ned Chalat claimed that his exposure to a variety of epidemics during those house calls made him immune from the Corona virus pandemic. "I'm a doctor, I should be out there helping," he told his daughter in a recent phone call.

Dr. Chalat followed his father into medicine, attending the University of Michigan for his B.S., Zoology, in 1945, and to the University of Michigan Medical School for his M.D., 1948. He did his internship and residency in otolaryngology at Harper Hospital. In 1952 he took a fellowship at the esteemed Lempert Institute in New York City. In 1953, he served in the United States Air Force as an Air Force surgeon with the rank of Captain (1953 -1955) at Parks AFB in Livermore, California.

Dr. Chalat's staunch ideals were recognized in every organization he joined, as evidenced by a raft of leadership positions over his lifetime. Dr. Chalat served as president of the Wayne County Medical Society, Chief of the Ear, Nose and Throat Departments at Harper and Sinai Hospitals, and held leadership positions at the Michigan Otolaryngological Society, the Michigan Chapter of American Medical Writers Association, the Detroit Academy of Medicine,

The Southeast Michigan Red Cross AIDS Education Committee and the Children's Center in Detroit.

Dr. Chalat retired from his medical practice in 1990 which gave him more time to devote to a variety intellectual pursuits. He began writing poetry and, together, he and his wife, Joann, expanded their travels to include Vietnam, Russia and Africa. He also enjoyed many adventures with his children — a fishing trip in Alaska with his son and grandson, camping in the Utah desert with his daughter and numerous family ski trips to the Rocky Mountains.

His favorite camping partner was his younger son, Andrew. The two loved to camp out in Northern Michigan, to fish, hike, and view the Northern Lights. Andrew and his father shared an interest in the Boy Scouts. Dr. Chalat had made Eagle Scout in 1941. Andrew was pushing toward that goal in 1977 when at the age of 15 he died from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. This was a crushing blow to Ned and Joann, but they turned their sorrow into a renewed commitment to the community.

Throughout his life, social activism kept Dr. Chalat engaged. His energy and leadership abilities propelled him to the head of several organizations including the Prismatic Club of Detroit, Friends of the Grosse Pointe Library, the Ann Arbor Culinary History Society and the Grosse Pointe Men's and Women's Garden Club.

One of the high points of Dr. Chalat's retirement came in September, 2000 when he and Joann donated a rare collection of illustrated children's books to the University of Michigan library where they were honored with a special event. On the same weekend, they celebrated the publication of Ned's collection of poetry, "Love, 'N'."

Dr. Chalat was a regular attendee at the Grosse Pointe Men's Ecumenical Breakfast for which, on Oct. 18, 2012 he wrote and delivered a prayer that said, in part: "Lord God, we thank you for our ancestors who had the foresight to establish a government that glorifies equality among races, color, religions and sexuality. Perhaps, most of all, we thank you for the gift of love with family, children and friends. Amen."

Dr. Chalat's life, both personal and professional, was guided by the principles of compassion and equality, values that are underscored in Jewish teachings. Jewish tradition also suggests the best way to remember a loved one is to carry on their legacy. Those whose lives were touched by Dr. Chalat in some way are asked to honor him by continuing his efforts.

Dr. Chalat is survived by his son, Jim (Linda Chalat), and daughter, Nancy (Tom Noaker)

His grandchildren: Alexandra Chalat Pearson (Jonny Pearson), Rachel Chalat Steudle (Brett Steudle), Grace Chalat, Harris Chalat (Sofia Panero), Dylan Noaker and his great-grandson Finnigan Steudle. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 65 years, Joann Steinberg Chalat, who he referred to as his "muse," his sister Ruth and son Andrew.

Dr. Chalat will be interred during a private ceremony at Beth El Memorial Park, Livonia, Michigan. Due to the pandemic, his family will host a virtual shiva at a time to be announced, and a memorial event later in the year.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution in Dr. Chalat's memory to the charity of your choice. Some of the organizations which Dr. And Mrs. Chalat supported include: the University of Michigan Medical School, Michigan Humane, Doctors Without Borders, the Wayne State University School of Medicine, the NAACP, Heifer International and the American Red Cross.

Remembrances can be sent to:

Jim Chalat

33212 Meadow Mtn. Rd.

Evergreen CO 80439


Nan Chalat Noaker

P.O. Box 98

Oakley, Utah 84055


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Published in Detroit Free Press & The Detroit News from Feb. 6 to Feb. 8, 2021.
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Memories & Condolences
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2 entries
February 17, 2021
Save a place in heaven for us.
You were an awesome inspiration to the men of the men’s ecumenical breakfast.
You were a great neighbor on Middlesex.
God Bless !
Eric Lindquist
Eric Lindquist
February 9, 2021
So sorry for your loss. May the God of all comfort and hope bring the family peace and love.
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